Mental Health Awareness Month: Everyone’s Brain Matters!

If mental health wasn’t important, then why is our brain completely protected by bone (skull), whereas other vital organs are just protected by a delicate rib cage….makes ya kinda of wonder, right?

Or why brains are such a tasty treat for Zombies!!

 

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Illustrated by Ginny 5.13.20

 

Okay, other then containing nutritious proteins for a healthy growing zombie, I am often told, the brain is protected more because the brain controls the entire body.  True, but perhaps it’s more protected to also remind us about both its physical and mental importance!

Everyone’s Brain Matters

The brain is just as important as any other part of our body and therefore, we shouldn’t neglect it, just as we shouldn’t neglect our lungs, heart, liver, or kidneys.  Zombies obviously, don’t let those go to waste either. 

For me, Mental Health Awareness Month is not just about tackling the mental health stigma, or making the world more aware of the many different kinds of mental health disorders, but also, making everyone aware that their very own mental health, whether they have a mental health disorder or not, also matters!

The human brain is a fascinating, mysterious, and remarkable piece of organic machinery.  Not only is it a complex super computer with a tangled network of a trillion chemical connections powering our entire physical body, but also gives incredible life to human creativity and innovation through its impressive mental capabilities.

Success and happiness is largely influenced by our own mental health.  Poor mental health prevents us from achieving our goals, letting go of grudges, obtaining happiness, keeping meaningful relationships, getting a promotion, working through difficult problems, overcoming emotions, and making good decisions.   Everyone, everyday, is affected by mental health.

Many of us live our lives on auto-pilot, not really paying attention to our mental health, until we either find ourselves in a difficult rut or become mentally burned out.   Perhaps, if we had practiced better mental health, we wouldn’t fall so hard mentally (depression, fatigue, stress, etc).

For Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s also focus on preventive care for our amazing hardworking brains.  Something, I believe is being neglected in our healthcare system.  I mean, doctors often check all the body functions, except for the brain.  They listen to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope, attach electrodes (EKG) to monitor heart function, blow into a spirometer to test lung function, and do blood labs to check our immune system, metabolism, liver, and kidney functions.  But, the brain is totally neglected.  Only when there are other problems in the body, do we start looking at the brain.  There is no preventive care plan for the brain, even though science is now showing a strong connection between mental and physical health.

To stay physically healthy, doctors tell us to exercise, eat right, and sleep well.  Unfortunately, you can’t do any of that without practicing better mental health.  If we’re sad or stressed, we’re likely not going to eat healthy (personally, I am a midnight ice-creamer eater when I am feeling blue).  If we’re stressed and/or busy, we’re likely not going to have time for exercise or be motivated to exercise.  And, if we’re anxious, we’re likely not gonna get good sleep.  Ironically, our brain (both physically and mentally) also requires exercise, eating right, and sleeping well.

Exercise fuels our brain with oxygen and releases hormones called endorphins, which makes us feel good and is a natural pain reliever.  Eating right gives our brain the right nutrients needed to keep our brain chemically balanced.  And sleeping; well, sleep gives our brain a restoration period to calm down from the chaotic world and repair our physical body.

So, taking care of our brain (both physically and mentally) is super important in keeping our entire body healthy!


Preventive Care For The Brain: 

 

Screen Shot 2020-05-13 at 12.43.17 PM

Obviously, living a healthy lifestyle, like exercising daily, maintaining an active social-life, laughing more, sleeping well, eating clean-healthy foods, and nixing bad habits such as smoking and drinking, is a great way to keep our brains physically healthy.  But, we can’t accomplish much of that, without practicing better mental health.

There are lots of things we can do to take better care of our brain to support better mental health, but (in my opinion), managing stress is number one!  Managing our stress-levels is important for keeping our brains chemically balanced and mentally healthy.  Stress can trigger all sorts of havoc on our brains, releasing hormones that can damage our body both mentally and physically.

Reducing stress can be challenging, for that we cannot eliminate stress 100%.  Stress plays an important role to our survival, keeping us alert and on our toes.  Instead of ignoring stress, it is important to learn how to better cope with stress.  Our brain needs to be maintained like a building structure or bridge, it needs to be strong enough to function properly, while also being able to cope with a stress load.  Aren’t brains awesome! 

A few ways we can start learning to better cope with daily stress is practicing acceptance, mindfulness, and gratitude.  

Acceptance allows us to cope with things we cannot control.  Mindfulness allows us to enjoy the present rather than dwell on the past or worry about the future.  And gratitude, gives us the ability to enjoy and appreciate the little things that make our world as a whole.  Practicing all of this together can reduce the amount of mental stress affecting both our mental and physical being.

There are tons of resources out there to get started, but getting started can be difficult.  Habits are difficult to change, but keep in mind, all it takes is a slight turn of your foot into a new direction to get you going on a new path.  🙂

Be Kind To Everyone

Mental Health Awareness Month is about promoting understanding, compassion, and kindness towards those struggling with mental health disorders.  Not all mental health disorders can be prevented or easily managed; and thus, requires lots of patience, support, love, and kindness.

It is also important to be kind to everyone, for that you never know what others may be going through physically or mentally.  ❤

 

 

 

 

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